Wall Street rallied to its highest close ever today, shaking off, at least from a stock perspective, the funk of the recession and the financial crisis.
But the proverbial rising tide was not enough to lift all boats. J.C. Penney was dogged by sharp declines following reports that key investor Vornado Realty Trust was selling 10 million of its shares of the struggling retailer. Vornado’s chairman, Steven Roth, sits on Penney’s board and helped activist investor William Ackman shake up the Penney’s operations.
Shares of the chain fell 10.6 percent to $14.96. That’s a decline of 29.3 percent since the company reported an annual loss of $985 million on Wednesday.
Penney’s was one of the few decliners on Wall Street.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average blew past its 2007 record high of 14.198.10 to close up 0.9 percent, or 125.95 points, to 14,253.77. The S&P 500 Retailing Index also closed at a new high, rising 0.7 percent, or 4.96 points, to 725.33.
The fashion gainers included American Apparel Inc., up 18.6 percent to $1.53, and Ascena Retail Group Inc., ahead 14.3 percent to $18.90 — both of which were up on the strength of quarterly earnings updates. Also perking up were Sears Holdings Corp., ahead 5.6 percent to $46.63; Aéropostale Inc., 4.9 percent to $13.59; American Eagle Outfitters, 4.1 percent to $22.55 and Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 3.2 percent to $18.51.
The rally was not contained to North America.
European markets also closed on highs not seen since before the financial crisis. The FTSE MIB in Milan led the way, up 2.8 percent to 5,974.30, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, which advanced 2.3 percent to 7,870.31. The CAC 40 in Paris grew 2.1 percent to 3,787.19, while the FTSE 100 in London leapt 1.4 percent to 6,431.95, its highest close since January 2008.
The euro traded at $1.30 against the dollar, while the pound was fetching $1.50.
Retail and luxury stocks echoed the upbeat mood with the day’s biggest gainers including Mulberry, up 6.2 percent to 13.06; Inditex, 3.5 percent to 107.60 euros, and Yoox, 2.4 percent to 14.95 euros.